Dougie McShane Back Beat Records

I’m born in Edinburgh and I was buying records from as far back as 
I can remember.  The business opened in 1981 but this shop specifically was 1990.  1990 we moved here from Candlemaker Row.  We decided on buying and selling blues records, thought that would be a good start to do it that way, then build it from there.  And we basically sold stuff that we liked, and all the money we made could go into buying more 
and more blues or jazz or…


By playing at people, so what you’re playing is Howlin’ Wolf or Skip James, or anyone that’s played in town the night before or that 
week.  If the gig was good people would be in the next day, you 
know?  Or people who travelled to the gig would be in that day of the gig to purchase anything they don’t have in their collection.  You always get that.  And certain people from the foreign countries as well.  Yugoslavian or Czech or… “Where you from” “Sweden.”  “Where’re you from?” “I’m from Iceland.”  Anyone that buys records would tell their mates and their mates are: “Get it, would you?”  Word gets around, you know?


In all weathers I usually work at the door there and everyone that passes knows who I am, speaks to me, 
they have a banter as they say here, you know?  I’ve been here since 1990 and I consider myself ingrained in the Southside now.  Ian Rankin 
the novelist put me in his book.  Rebus shops in Backbeat Records, he’s based in the police station in 
the Southside as well.


I think music’s very healing, always has been.  Many, many people phone me up and say “Can you get me this soul piece or that piece?”  
I say “What’re you wanting it for?”  “It’s for a funeral.”  Hundreds of people have said that over the years, you know?  Record shops have always been a place where people go, so they’ll pick up a new sound.  Many, many times we’ll be playing songs: “Who was that?”, you know.  It could be something that came out this week or it could be something that came out forty years ago.


If someone comes in here, it’s a one-to-one, you can show them the album, you can talk to them about the album, you know, you may 
own the album yourself so you’re actually familiar with it.  I don’t know if you get that on the internet – 
’cos I never buy anything on the internet in my life, I don’t know, not that I’m against it – I never have.  They’re coming in to pick your brain, essentially, hoping that you know 
the second James Carr album or the third… whatever it is.